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Collage junior style

My kids like crafting. So I booked my older son for a few craft workshops during the holidays to keep him occupied for a few hours.

One of them was a Deco patch class and I thought he’d come home with this enormous sculpture covered by patterned paper, instead he came home with a super cute collage. I love the little lizard with the various papers on him. And can you see the horizon lines?

decopatch_c

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Penguin threads: Embroidered book covers

secret_garden Have you seen the covers of the new Penguin threads deluxe editions that are going to be released in fall? I am so drooling over the pictures at Jillian Tamaki’s blog. She is the artist who designs the new covers for “Emma”, “The Secret Garden” and “Black Beauty”. Aren’t they just gorgeous?

The covers of the books sold will obviously not be hand-embroidered (a bit too expensive for most) but will be sort of embossed and a tactile experience nevertheless.

The Atlantic.com also has a short article about this the project.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image is a screenshot from Jillian Tamaki’s blog.

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Weekend cooking: Crock pot, first experiences

A few weeks ago I asked about what crock pot to buy since I am a total newbie when it comes to slow cookers. After taking to heart everything you told me and after carefully balancing expenditure and required features I went for a British make, Morphy Richards. I ordered it in the UK since the price there was, even with postage, much better than in Germany.

It is large, oval, has three settings and a removable pot. The only thing I didn’t get was the digital thingy, but it just was not worth the added expense in my eyes.

This is my new baby:

slowcooker

 

And this is it in real life (and bigger):

slow_cooker 

First experiences:

  • Inaugural dish was Beans Bourguignon (spelled wrongly, but that didn’t matter).  It was quite nice, but I think I need to know more about the amount of liquid in a dish. Somehow it was a tiny bit too much for my taste.
  • The next day it was Vegetarian Crockpot Layered Dinner. Can you tell I am excited about my new baby? The family ate it and liked it but I was not at all pleased with the soy sauce taste. Somehow it didn’t work for me. Next time the soy sauce has to go.
  • Then I felt I needed a timer to try out the oatmeal. Not that we couldn’t make porridge really quick after getting up, but I wanted to see what it’s like in the slow cooker. And, of course, I didn’t want to get up at 5 am to turn the thing on. As it turned out, the timer worked fine (cheapest thing in the shop, cost me €4,00) and the porridge was OK, but gooey and somewhat rubbery. Porridge made fresh at 8am on the stove is definitely better.
  • Now my favourite so far…Slow cooker vegetable curry from BHG. I had to adjust the recipe quite a bit because, believe it or not, I had no curry powder, but I had kurkuma, garam masala and what not, so I just tossed a few of those Indian spices in there. The second time I added some ginger and cardamom, also fine. The tapioca I left out, this is no pantry staple over here, so it goes without saying I didn’t have it. I didn’t have green beans, so I took zucchini instead, and I didn’t use tomatoes, but tomato puree. So, in fact, this is a completely different recipe. But it worked out well.

Since I liked the curry best I went and bought The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla. That book is going to be the topic for another weekend cooking post though.

My verdict

All in all I am more than pleased with the slow cooker concept. It is time saving and practical; you can do other things all day, smell your dinner getting ready and then sit down and eat without slaving over the stove. Perfect! Thanks everybody for your advice!

 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

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Welcome to the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop

litbloghop Welcome to my part of the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!

Today I am giving away a book from my shelf, it is not new, but in good condition, however the pages show that it is from 1993. Hector Hugh Munro

It is “The complete stories of Saki” by Hector Hugh Munro, in the Wordsworth Classics edition. If you like short stories, this is the perfect book for you. I have read it a long time ago and am now giving it away because we own two copies, and even though the stories are excellent, one is enough, :).

To give you an idea about Munro, here are two quotes:

A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation.

 

and

The sacrifices of friendship were beautiful in her eyes as long as she was not asked to make them.

If you like them, Saki should be just the right thing for you.

To enter the giveaway, just fill out the form below.  The giveaway is international.

After you entered please don’t forget to visit all the other participants of the blog hop. You will find links to all of them at the bottom of this post. There are more than 70 blogs to visit. But don’t stress, you have until Wednesday before the hop is over and the giveaways close.

 

 

 Saki Cover

 

 

 

 

List with all the Participants:

  1. Leeswammes (Int)
  2. The Book Whisperer (Int)
  3. Kristi Loves Books (Int)
  4. Teadevotee (Int)
  5. Bookworm with a View (Int)
  6. Bibliosue (Int)
  7. Sarah Reads Too Much (Int)
  8. write meg! (USA)
  9. My Love Affair With Books (Int)
  10. Seaside Book Nook (Int)
  11. Uniflame Creates (Int)
  12. Always Cooking Up Something (Int)
  13. Book Journey (Int)
  14. ThirtyCreativeStudio (Int)
  15. Col Reads (Int)
  16. The Book Diva’s Reads (Int)
  17. The Scarlet Letter (USA)
  18. The Parrish Lantern (Int)
  19. Lizzy’s Literary Life (Int)
  20. Read, Write & Live (Int)
  21. Book’d Out (Int)
  22. The Readers’ Suite (Int)
  23. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (USA)
  24. Ephemeral Digest (Int)
  25. Miel et lait (Int)
  26. Bibliophile By the Sea (Int)
  27. Polychrome Interest (Int)
  28. Book World In My Head (Int)
  29. In Spring it is the Dawn (Int)
  30. everybookhasasoul (Int)
  31. Nishita’s Rants and Raves (Int)
  32. Fresh Ink Books (Int)
  33. Teach with Picture Books (USA)
  34. How to Teach a Novel (USA)
  35. The Blue Bookcase (Int)
  36. Gaskella (Int)
  37. Reflections from the Hinterland (USA)
  38. chasing bawa (Int)
  39. 51stories (Int)
  40. No Page Left Behind (USA)
  41. Silver’s Reviews (USA)
  42. Nose in a book (Int)
  43. Lit in the Last Frontier (Int)
  44. The Book Club Blog (Int)
  45. Under My Apple Tree (Int)
  46. Caribousmom (USA)
  47. breienineking (Netherlands)
  48. Let’s Go on a Picnic! (Int)
  49. Rikki’s Teleidoscope (Int)
  50. De Boekblogger (Netherlands)
  51. Knitting and Sundries (Int)
  52. Elle Lit (USA)
  53. Indie Reader Houston (Int)
  54. The Book Stop (Int)
  55. Eliza Does Very Little (Int)
  56. Joy’s Book Blog (Int)
  57. Lit Endeavors (USA)
  58. Roof Beam Reader (Int)
  59. The House of the Seven Tails (Int)
  60. Tony’s Reading List (Int)
  61. Sabrina @ Thinking About Loud! (Int)
  62. Rebecca Reads (Int)
  63. Kinna Reads (Int)
  64. In One Eye, Out the Other (USA)
  65. Books in the City (Int)
  66. Lucybird’s Book Blog (Europe)
  67. Book Clutter (USA)
  68. Exurbanis (Int)
  69. Lu’s Raves and Rants (USA & Canada)
  70. Sam Still Reading (Int)
  71. Dolce Bellezza (Int)
  72. Lena Sledge’s Blog…Books, Reviews and Interviews (Int)
  73. a Thousand Books with Quotes (Int)

 

Now, hop on and have fun!

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Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

pearlearringBlurb:

Girl With a Pearl Earring tells the story of Griet, a 16-year-old Dutch girl who becomes a maid in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Her calm and perceptive manner not only helps her in her household duties, but also attracts the painter’s attention. Though different in upbringing, education and social standing, they have a similar way of looking at things. Vermeer slowly draws her into the world of his paintings – the still, luminous images of solitary women in domestic settings.

In contrast to her work in her master’s studio, Griet must carve a place for herself in a chaotic Catholic household run by Vermeer’s volatile wife Catharina, his shrewd mother-in-law Maria Thins, and their fiercely loyal maid Tanneke. Six children (and counting) fill out the household, dominated by six-year-old Cornelia, a mischievous girl who sees more than she should.

On the verge of womanhood, Griet also contends with the growing attentions both from a local butcher and from Vermeer’s patron, the wealthy van Ruijven. And she has to find her way through this new and strange life outside the loving Protestant family she grew up in, now fragmented by accident and death.

As Griet becomes part of her master’s work, their growing intimacy spreads disruption and jealousy within the ordered household and even – as the scandal seeps out – ripples in the world beyond.

My thoughts: 

This was a very quick read for me. Once I started I just didn’t want to put the book down again. The pace is slow, no exciting things happen (at least nothing that we would call exciting nowadays). It describes the life of Griet working in Vermeer’s household, her daily tasks and the internal quarrels. The story is given life by the various characters living in that household.

I liked how everybody was described, even though some of the characters were very unlikeable (from what I have read, Chevalier has taken quite some poetic license as Catharina obviously was not nearly as bad as she was in the book).

A few things I found hard to believe.

Cornelia, one of the children, was such a sly creature, always on the lookout to hurt Griet and get her into trouble. Can a little six year old girl be that cunning and mean?

The ability of Griet to help Vermeer in improving his paintings felt strange to me. She might have had an innate and unconscious understanding of composition and colors, but that she immediately knew what was missing in her painting whereas Vermeer took two days and a visual cue to realize this felt unrealistic to me.

The relationship between Vermeer and Catharina was extremely ambivalent. Obviously he had a say in things because when he put his foot down it worked, but at the same time he seemed to be afraid of his wife. Maybe it was just that he was so wrapped up in his own world that he just didn’t care about anything else, but then I would have expected him to be frank about his art and give a damn about the consequences. However, he kept a lot of things secret in order to not kick up a stink with his wife. Then again, when it came to Griet wearing the earrings, he never even considered the consequences for her. All this threw a bad light on him in my eyes. Being wrapped up in your own little artistic world is fair and good as long as you don’t have a household with a dozen kids and a few bickering women to take care of. As much as I understood his behaviour I could never bring myself to really like him.

All that aside I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. If you like slow paced books with interesting characters this is definitely worth a try.

To read the first chapter and see the paintings mentioned in the story, go to Tracy Chevalier’s website.

Title Girl with a pearl earring
Author Tracy Chevalier
Publisher Plume
ISBN 978-0452287020
Buy link Buy Girl with a Pearl Earring
Article

Rock ‘n Rolla

In the third week of the class the topic was vignette composition. Actually I think a lot of scrapbookers use that sort of concept, just that they might not even know about it.

I started in a sort of half-assed way, not knowing what to do until I came across this clipped newspaper photo of Bill Haley and Elvis Presley when they met somewhere in Germany. I loved that photo with Bill Haley looking so cool with his cigarette (don’t bash me for saying that!). But by now it was so crumpled and torn that I didn’t want to keep it, but couldn’t throw it away either. So I took a photograph to use it digitally and keep it that way.

The title is self-explanatory. I am a huge Guy Ritchie fan, so it was an obvious choice.

week3_vignette_ass1

Credits: Background: Christine Newman, grungy frame: Leora Sanford, photo frame: Andrea Rascaglia, all images are from flickr, except for the newspaper photo which I found in our local newspaper. The title is from the movie poster Rock N Rolla.

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Warm Fuzzies

swabedoo Some time ago a friend gave me the German book “Die kleinen Leute von Swabedoo”, a fairy tale by an unknown author. It is a wonderful story about loving, giving and what happens when you stop doing that. I looked around on the net whether there was an English version out there and it seems there are different versions of the story.

In general the story seems to be called “Warm fuzzies”, because warm fuzzies are the gifts that people exchange in the story (in German they are giving “small, warm fur”, something the reader can actually feel because one “small, warm fur” is attached to the cover of the book). There is one version on amazon called The Original Warm Fuzzy Tale. Obviously it is rather close to the German version as far as the story goes. Then there is one by a Richard Lessor which must be actually quite modern as TV and restaurant chains are mentioned. It is much shorter than mine and not nearly as detailed (maybe the free text on the internet is abridged, I don’t know). bettelheim

One of the reviewers on amazon complains about people dying in the “original” story. That is something she doesn’t “want to read to her children”. I wonder why. In every fairy tale (just like in real life) gruesome things happen and a lot of people die. Why wouldn’t she want to read that to her kids? I wanted to recommend to her the book The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim. Maybe that would open her eyes.

All that aside, if you have kids and want to teach them something about the importance of happiness, giving and love, then this very short book is not a bad choice at all.

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Weekend cooking: Elder blossoms

 

A couple of weeks ago we went to the annual Elder Blossom Festival elder_blossomin one of the surrounding villages. The specialty there are deep fried elder blossoms. Not that they are anything too delicious, they taste like, um, deep fried something, but it sure is a nice and romantic idea. This is what the dish looked like:

elderblossoms_fried  

At the festival the drink of choice would be either elder water or elder liquor. Elder water is quite tasty and has a certain flavour that I had never met before. At the same time it is very refreshing. It’s the perfect drink for hot days when plain water just isn’t good enough.

I had a look around for a recipe and found a very simple one. This is not for syrup that needs to be diluted later, but this is ready made to drink.

Elder water

Ingredients:

  • 7 large elder blossoms
  • 5 l water
  • 250g sugar
  • 3 untreated lemons

Boil water with sugar and pour over elder blossoms. Cut lemons into strips and add to it. Let rest over night. Pour through a very fine sieve and bring to a boil again. Fill up into bottles.

Some recipes add a little bit of vinegar. I suppose this depends on the personal taste.

 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Elder blossom image from flickr.  

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This way out

Claudine pointed us to the artwork of Elly MacKay. I absolutely love the collages she creates, especially the ones with ships. One of them in particular – it’s called “I’ll travel with you”  – made me want to do something with ships as well.

Of course, mine turned out completely different…

week2_horizon_ass3

All items are from various digital kits that I created in the past.

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Bookish clothing

Would you like to make a statement and show your taste in books on your t-shirt? Out of print Clothing has the solution for you.

This is what they say about their clothes:

Out of Print celebrates the world’s great stories through fashion. Our shirts feature iconic and often out of print book covers. Some are classics, some are just curious enough to make great t-shirts, but all are striking works of art…

out-of-print

 

They also have an interesting blog with all sorts of bookish news. Check it out!

Image is a screenshot from the Out of print shop.

PS.:

Fiona blogged about her new T-Shirt from Out of Print Clothing here.   

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Book locations: Shakespeare memorial in Weimar

April 23, 1864 on Shakespeare’s 300th birthday the German Shakespeare society was founded. It is one of the oldest still active literary societies worldwide. In 1904, to celebrate its 40th anniversary, the society ordered a memorial which was done by sculptor Otto Lessing.

shakespeare1

Shakespeare is sitting in front of an artificial ruin, at his feet is a skull wearing a fool’s cap.

Unfortunately at the time I was there I was not aware that Shakespeare’s face is showing two different emotions. From the right he is supposed to look serious and pensive, from the left smiling and cheerful. Missed that! You can see the two sides of his face here (smiling & serious).

The statue is the only statue of Shakespeare in Germany (some sources say in Europe, but I’m not sure that is so).

shakespeare2

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The first clouds in the skies…

I made this as a second piece for the horizon composition practice as well as for another color challenge at Big Picture. We were supposed to start with a color scheme and then pick elements etc. I chose the lilac and green theme from the decor8 blog which suggested something grassy and flowery.

When I saw the happy couple amidst all those flowers I had to think of a line from the Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. “Erste Wolken am Himmel des jungen Glücks” (First clouds in the skies of young happiness). And there they are already!

week2_horizon_ass2

Credits: Papers: Leah Nicole, Jen Wilson, Flowers: Sara Carling, TADA, KatG, Eve Recinella, Melanie Violet, Luiza Garay, Julia Makotinsky, Gina Cabrera, Glitter heart and edge overlay: Nina, Floral overlay: Gypsy Chick, Clouds: Weeds and Wildflowers, Man&woman stamp: Laura Alpuche

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Bag insert No. 3

There are just too many good quotes out there…

I should be actually having those inserts printed so I can show you what the bag looks like. So far all I do is show scrapbook pages…:)

bag_insert_blue

Credits: Papers and elements: Jen Wilson, lace border: Emily Farnworth, Stitch circle brush: Jason Gaylor, Font: Arsis, Arial, Exmouth, Quote by Robert Frost

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Martha Stewart ideas for books

In the Martha Stewart craft of the day newsletter they talked about making waterproof book covers for the beach. That made me wonder what other book ideas the Martha Stewart empire comes up with. Here are a few…

If you have a bit of time to kill, go and browse a bit!

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Something kite

The second week of Claudine’s composition class has begun and we are focusing on a horizon composition. I am determined to make use of the images Claudine provided and this time I went for the boy, the house and the little tag. I started with the “kite” tag and looked around her images to see what would go with a kite. This is what I came up with. No idea what to call it. Normally I use some words on my pages, so for now I am calling it…

…Something kite

week2_horizon_ass1

Credits: Papers: Jessica Bolton and Jen Wilson, kite shape from Stock Exchange, tree brush: Jason Gaylor

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Color challenge at Big Picture Classes

I went to the Big Picture Blog yesterday and discovered they have a color challenge going right now. I haven’t done any challenges in a long time but figured I could give it a go and practice some collage as well while I’m there.

The only rule was to use soft blue as the background, that sounded easy enough. I had planned to use a certain haiku that I found at the Haiku Forge for a long time and this was a good opportunity. If you don’t know the haiku forge, you should definitely check it out. Great haiku to be found and great web design as well.

The image of the girl was so small that I could only create an ATC with it, everything else would have been too big for it. I was looking for a sleeping woman actually, but couldn’t find any cool vintage image of one. If you ever come across one, let me know, please!

haiku_forge

Credits: Background: Oscraps collab, Lace: Amy Martin, Moon and stars: Jeannie Papai, Girl image: flickr by chicks57, Moon image: flickr by penguinbush, frame: Audrey Neal, Constellation brush and grunge overlay: Michelle Coleman, Stitching: Syrin

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The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway

garden_of_eden_coverBlurb:

A sensational bestseller when it appeared in 1986, The Garden of Eden is the last uncompleted novel of Ernest Hemingway, which he worked on intermittently from 1946 until his death in 1961. Set on the Côte d’Azur in the 1920s, it is the story of a young American writer, David Bourne, his glamorous wife, Catherine, and the dangerous, erotic game they play when they fall in love with the same woman.

My thoughts: 

I have read reviews of this book that covered the whole range from “a dreadfully boring story without any plot” to “literary porn”. It is neither.

The plot is not quite what you would expect from reading the short blurb. David is far from falling in love with the same woman as Catherine, but rather he is pushed into her arms by his absolute nutcase of a wife.

Hemingway has a knack of creating women who are manipulative and destructive, he must have disliked us a great deal. I hated Catherine from chapter one and felt sorry for David from the start. The poor guy had no idea what he had gotten himself into when he married her three weeks ago. At first I thought that she had successfully hidden her insanity and gender-bending tendencies, until someone, whom I read the book with, pointed out to me that she was obviously pushed into that behaviour by an incident happening after their marriage. That made sense, even though I would have never connected those two things myself.

After realizing that I felt not quite as unforgiving towards her, but still, her behaviour was so creepy that I just couldn’t figure out why David would not only accept it, but actually played along.

The way Marita was added as third person to the triangle was so matter of fact, she turned up, was dragged into the situation by Catherine and, again, David lets her do as she pleases. I found that weird, but then, who can blame him for wanting an additional companion as moral support against his crazy wife. That eventually he’d fall in love with Marita was only natural.

The parallel story that was told by David in his book about the elephant hunt in Africa was very fascinating. I could very much feel what David felt when the elephant was killed. Guilt, regret and the resolve never to confide anything again. I was drawn into it even though before I could not have thought of a less interesting topic than an African elephant hunt.

It was also very interesting to read about the problems of writers when no inspiration comes to them. And about the feelings of the writer when his work gets lost. Again this was done so beautifully, with David’s feelings so clear, I could have killed Catherine myself.

I was glad to see the book end on a positive note though. I don’t think it could have had a better ending. Uplifting and satisfying, especially given the absolutely disturbing atmosphere throughout the whole story.

Title The Garden of Eden
Author Ernest Hemingway
Publisher Scribner
ISBN 9780684804521
Buy link Buy The Garden of Eden
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Bovine Jealousy

I am on a total roll. My collage class is such fun, I just can’t stop…:).

This is my third piece, I call it “Bovine Jealousy”.

week1_assymmetrical_ass3

Credits: Background: Dianne Rigdon, green paper and red button: Jen Wilson, red paper: Jackie Eckles, torn heart: Jessica Bolton, animal and farm images: flickr by jerseybarb85,  ribbon: Ronna Penner, Frayed edge: DaniB, RIP Cupid brush: Fly Guy, Stamp sheet: Meredith Fenwick

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The Book Seer

I stumbled upon The Bookseer. You tell him what you just finished reading and he will give you recommendations what to read next. Not a bad idea, but it seems the only recommendations he gives right now are the ones that amazon would give you.  Library thing didn’t recommend a thing “at the moment”.

This is what I got…

bookseer1

bookseer2

 

Well, who would have thought it? I finished Hemingway and he recommends more of him! Does the fact that I have read one of the recommendations already, that I am reading one of them right now and that another one is on my TBR pile signify that the Book Seer (and amazon) are extremely smart or extremely simple? I suppose I will have to try it out a few more times…